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Builder of collapsed Surfside condo was a partner in project that went bust

Ron Hurtibise, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

But court records show they had continued to do business together, as investors or managing members of at least two other Wolfarth-fronted companies.

Nathan Reiber, his wife, Carolee, daughter Jill Meland and her husband Mark Meland — a real estate attorney with the Miami-based firm Meland Budwick — were named with the Wolfarths and two companies as defendants in a 2008 foreclosure suit against Club Caribe, a Coconut Creek-based condominium complex.

Neither Robert Wolfarth Jr. nor Mark Meland responded to emails and text messages seeking comment for this report.

Marketing ‘a little gem’

Records show that the Wolfarths in 2005 purchased what was then called Coconut Creek Apartments, a 14-building, 377-unit complex near the Sawgrass Expressway interchange at State Road 7, and converted the apartments into condominiums.

It was the height of the nation’s real estate boom, and South Florida real estate in particular was selling at a fever pitch, pushing up home prices to unsustainable levels within just a few years.

 

But that wasn’t yet known in 2005, and the Wolfarths’ new company, Club Caribe Associates LLC, aggressively marketed the former apartments to buyers who were being left behind by the rising prices.

A South Florida Sun Sentinel ad in May 2006 touted: “Across from prestigious Parkland. Adjacent to a protected nature preserve. From a simply unbelievable $159,900!”

In smaller type, the pitch continued by telling readers that Club Caribe, “a little gem of a community,” is “tucked away at the end of a long and winding road.”

And then the ad revealed that Club Caribe consisted of one- and two-bedroom residences “with quality finishes, great amenities and almost-too-hard-to-believe prices.” What the ad didn’t reveal were the unit sizes — 846 square feet, 1,015 square feet, and 1,130 square feet.

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